It Seemed Strange to Ask Questions of a Machine

For your convenience.
From the book, a full-page illustration of the three children and the Professor, who is at the control panel of the enormous computer as Irene leans in to observe in the foreground, with the two boys behind the machine leaning over and watching with a large computer-memory magnetic tape reel behind them.

I finally got the quarter in my jukebox brain to drop and play what might be the perfect caption, to accompany Ezra Jack Keats’s drawing of a schoolgirl leaning on Miniac, short for ‘miniature automatic computer,’ and described by one of the boys there as “the first midget giant brain,” as the Professor mans the controls. 

(In the book it’s a beat longer, with one of the boys suggesting Irene test the machine on a homework problem about what 918 yards of silk would cost, and her reply: “It seems strange to ask questions of a machine, doesn’t it?”)

The machine spits out the correct answer, with a snatch of commentary: 

“$1,377.00,” it wrote.  And, after a second or two, it added, “And worth it.”

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